Belfast Telegraph

Health, social care complaints up

The number of complaints about health and social care is on the rise in Northern Ireland as patients lose trust in the health authorities, assembly ombudsman Dr Tom Frawley said.

Clinical decisions, treatment and social care represented nearly two thirds (62%) of issues determined by the watchdog last year, according to his annual report.

While the number of new health complaints received during the year reduced slightly from a high of 370 in 2013-14 to 337 (a drop of 9%), the general trend remains upwards with the volume of complaints having increased by 81% over the last five years.

Dr Frawley said: "The investigations of a complaint regarding clinical care and treatment are both complex and extended, typically requiring the advice and comment from a wide range of different specialities or professions.

"An underlying issue in many of the complaints brought to me is a breakdown in trust between the patient, their family and the health and social care (HSC) body being complained of.

"In our modern HSC system patient care can involve a number of HSC bodies. It is therefore important that the HSC system is designed so that essential information is available at each stage of the patient's journey, ensuring both informed patients and appropriate care and treatment."

He urged the NHS to focus on a 'complainant centred' approach to help ensure that complainants get the answers and information they are seeking at the outset and thus crucially ensure that the essential trust and confidence of all those affected by the complaint is renewed and restored.

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